This Article is About
heart disease
american heart association
bodily tissues
average lifespan
average life expectancy
heart muscle
cell walls
heart attacks
heart attack
How Heart Disease Is Affected By Your Diet
Join 1000's of Authors at StreetArticles Today!

How Heart Disease is Affected By Your Diet

The connection between diet and heart disease

In today's article, we'll look at the ways in which your diet can negatively or positively affect your chances of developing heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans today, resulting in over 450,000 fatalities each year, according to the American Heart Association. Some authors have written this off as merely a "first world problem," implying that since Americans aren't dying from malnutrition and malaria on a regular basis, we shouldn't really worry. It's true that we aren't dying from traditional maladies, but that doesn't mean that we can't do something about the problems we do have.

As I wrote in my last article, Americans' average lifespan has been going up steadily, especially since the 1920s. The average life expectancy today is 75 years, 90+ years for someone born in the 1980s. The good news is that you're probably going to live a long time. The question today is not "how long can I expect to live." It's now "how long can I expect to live well." For most people, this comes down to financial security, and health maintenance. I'm no financial planner, but I do know a thing or two about health issues.

What is a heart attack?

Heart attacks and strokes are usually caused by the buildup of material along the cell walls of arteries, which make them swell over time. This swelling can lead to a partial or complete blockage of blood flow. This causes two problems. First, blockage prevents nutrients and oxygen to reach vital bodily tissues "down stream." This can lead to cell death, which can potentially kill you. The most common situation is one in which arteries supplying the heart itself with nutrients is blocked off.

Second, that blood has to go somewhere. If it can't flow away from the heart to other parts of the body, it can back up, causing high pressure which can lead to the heart muscle giving up. The result is a stopped heart. Sometimes hemorrhaging can occur if vascular tissue has been already weakened due to some other cause.

The term "stroke" refers to a similar situation where a blood clot forms somewhere in the body and then becomes lodged in an artery supplying oxygen and nutrients to the brain. If this happens, brain damage or death can result.

Diet & heart disease

Heart disease, like diabetes, is a serious medical condition that has some significant lifestyle components. People who exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet are less likely to develop heart conditions than those who don't. Exercise is important because it strengthens your muscles, including your heart and lungs. The stronger your heart is, the more resilient it will be against physical stress caused by periodic heavy activity, such as helping your best friend move. A strong heart also helps lower the chance that your heart will give out due to a minor, temporary blockage.

Diet is also very important. Most people reading this article have probably heard of "HDL" and "LDL" cholesterol. One is supposedly good, and the other isn't. How and why? Cholesterols are a family of complex fats that help make up the cell walls of every cell in your body. They're also involved in the production of various acids and hormones in your body. Without them, life as we know it wouldn't exist. That said, what are HDLs and LDLs, and how do they affect heart health?

"HDL" stands for "high-density lipid," and "LDL" is "low-density lipid." Most cholesterols in your body are HDLs. They bind to various other molecular compounds, and go about their business without causing your body any trouble. LDLs, on the other hand, have a tendency to be much more "sticky," and can build up in vascular tissue. If enough of them build up in your arteries, they can cut off blood flow.

Managing cholesterol

A good heart disease conscious diet is all about putting in more of the "good stuff" and taking out as much of the "bad stuff" as possible. When it comes to heart health, experts recommend a well-balanced diet that is high in fruits and grains, and low in fats and sugars. Here's a short list of what the American Heart Association recommends:

  • Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day
  • Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week
  • Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day
  • Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

See their website for more detailed information on heart disease diet issues, as well as how to assess your risk factors and more.

Antioxidant rich foods and heart disease

Emerging science also suggests that various antioxidant rich foods can have a positive affect on heart health by reducing stress factors that can otherwise cause heart muscle to not function as well as it could. For example, a particular type of antioxidant found in the mangosteen fruit appears to aid in the recovery of heart tissue after injury. If this is the case, antioxidant rich foods may have benefits when it comes to everyday wear and tear on your heart.

As always, consult your doctor or other competent medical expert before starting any kind of excersise or diet regimen. The American Heart Association website provides a lot of good heart disease diet information, and you can find a lot of useful info about antioxidant rich foods on Pubmed and the Journal of Medicinal Foods.

Street Talk

No comments present
You May Also Like
Heart Disease is Affecting More Women And at Younger Ages
In honor of national Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association has kicked off a number of educational programs so that women understood their risk of heart disease. According to statistics, more women are falling victim to heart disease, many at younger ages than ever before. While there is…
By: amie nogrady in  Health and Fitness  >  Womens Issues   Feb 04, 2012  
  Likes: 0

Canine Heart Disease - Can you help!
There is a fund that has been set up called the Million Heart Challenge to help dogs with heart disease. When the website has reached one million visitors, Boehringer Ingleheim Vetmedica Inc.are going to make a donation of $15,000 to the American College of Internal Veterinary Medicine for research into…
By: Daniella March in  Pets  >  Dogs   Jul 01, 2011  
  Likes: 1

Weight Loss And Heart Disease: How Weight Loss Can Effect Heart Disease
The first thing you must understand is that the health of your heart is core to your wellbeing. Your heart can develop disease through any number of incorrect lifestyle choices which can include smoking, too much alcohol, the using of drugs, lack of exercise or simply eating the wrong foods.…
By: Sam G Morton  in  Health and Fitness  >  Weight Loss   Jan 01, 2012  
  Likes: 0

Ischemic Heart Disease: Practical Points
Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in the Western world. There is a greater prevalence of ischemic heart disease in men, which is responsible for approximately 40 per cent of all deaths in males who are still of working age. Ischemic heart disease (coronary heart disease, coronary…
By: DiParco in  Health and Fitness  >  Diseases   Jul 20, 2011  
  Likes: 1

Who Else Wants To Become An American Heart Association Instructor?
Before you jump into studying to become an American Heart Association Instructor you should go to your local AHA center and meet the team. Find out what types of courses they particularly need trainers in as this would be a good place to start gaining the qualifications you need. You…
By: Laura King in  Reference and Education  >  Continuing Education   Jul 12, 2011  
  Likes: 0

Late Night Snacks for Suffers Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure afflicts more than one billion people around the world and the number appears to be growing every day. It is especially prevalent in older people, people of color, persons with sedentary lifestyles, obese persons and people with certain hereditary predispositions. Because hypertension is often associated with other…
By: Des Forbes in  Health and Fitness  >  Hypertension   Mar 22, 2013  
  Likes: 1

What is the Simple Seven And How Can it Help You Live A Healthier Life?
Life's Simple Seven, the recommendations made by the American Heart Association are the seven health and behavioral changes that can protect you from cardiovascular disease as well as helping during recovery from heart attack, stroke and other potential health risks. There are two sides of the simple seven including the…
By: amie nogrady in  Health and Fitness  >  Mind Body Spirit   May 06, 2012  
  Likes: 4

Heart Disease is Affecting More Women And at Younger Ages
In honor of national Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association has kicked off a number of educational programs so that women understood their risk of heart disease. According to statistics, more women are falling victim to heart disease, many at younger ages than ever before. While there is…
By: amie nogrady in  Health and Fitness  >  Womens Issues   Feb 04, 2012  
  Likes: 0

Are CPR Classes A Good Idea Or A Waste Of Time?
If you have been thinking of going to CPR classes you might be worried that they are a waste of time. After all some people believe you can learn the same information by watching a video on YouTube. But watching a video whether it is on YouTube or any other…
By: Laura King in  Reference and Education  >  Continuing Education   Jul 12, 2011  
  Likes: 0

How Much Protein Do You Really Need Every Day?
According to information gained by the National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey, the average adult is consuming as much as two times more protein than they actually need every day. And that extra protein is likely to result in not only weight gain but may also cause dangerous disorders that…
By: amie nogrady in  Health and Fitness  >  Nutrition   Sep 26, 2012  
  Likes: 5

Stroke is Happening In Young People: No Longer An Old Age Problem
More people are having strokes at an earlier age and the reason may be because of an increased number of risk factors. Strokes were once the worry of older people, however, they are now a more serious concern for the middle aged. According to the Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky Stroke Study,…
By: amie nogrady in  Health and Fitness  >  Medicine   Nov 05, 2012  
  Likes: 3

Boy of Three Could Owe Life To Teenager
If you thought CPR training was a waste of time you should check out the latest news from Greenville County, SC. A little boy, aged 3 was pulled from the swimming pool. He was unconscious and not breathing so the teenage lifeguard on duty at the time started CPR. Seemingly…
By: Laura King in  Reference and Education  >  Survival and Emergency   Aug 02, 2011  
  Likes: 0

How Do You Learn CPR?
There are many different ways to learn CPR. Some people will recommend you head over to you tube and watch a couple of videos. Will this equip you with life saving skills? It is possible but not particularly likely. The recent news coverage on how a young boy saved his…
By: Laura King in  Reference and Education  >  Continuing Education   Aug 02, 2011  
  Likes: 0

Do The Current CPR Guidelines Kill People?
The current thinking is that you should stop CPR if after a certain length of time there is no response from the casualty. The reasoning was simple. Even if you did manage get the heart pumping again,the victims system would have suffered serious oxygen deprivation so wide scale brain damage…
By: Laura King in  Reference and Education  >  Continuing Education   Aug 03, 2011  
  Likes: 0

Are All Online CPR Courses The Same?
The short answer is no, they aren't! Should you take your CPR certification online via any course that comes up under a search in Google? Definitely not if you are required to hold a valid certificate for work as you will probably find your employer doesn’t recognize it. This could…
By: Laura King in  Reference and Education  >  Continuing Education   Aug 16, 2011  
  Likes: 0

Article Views: 1817    Report this Article